CTG reports from Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival: Day 3

the big screen in the Albert Halls

the big screen in the Albert Halls

Onto Sunday, and it was hard to believe that the festival was almost over. But there wasn’t time to feel sad as I was booked into a full day of sessions.

The morning started with So You Want to Be a Crime Novelist? A bunch of eight brave writers pitched their novels to the panel – agent Mark Stanton, editor Alison Hennessey, and last year’s winner (and bookseller) Joseph Knobbs. All the participants pitched brilliantly and showed nerves of steel. Massive congratulations to the winners – Alex Cox and Dan Stewart – who both won a gorgeous Toshiba tablet.

Next was the Masters of the Dark session with Mark Billingham and Stewart Neville (chaired by Peter Guttridge). Both writers talked about how freeing it could be to write a standalone novel after focusing on a series, and touched on their research methods (like going out in a patrol car with a couple of Police Officers for the night shift). They also discussed the art of the plot twist – when it works, when it doesn’t, and when there are just too many of the damn things.

After lunch I headed to the Craig Robertson & Chris Carter session (again chaired by Peter Guttridge) entitled Chasing Serial Killers. They discussed where their ideas for stories begin – a murder scene, a motivation, or a character – and the strange places they can suddenly get ideas. Chris Carter talked about being on the beach when one of his story ideas popped into his mind.

In the final session of the day, At the Top of his Game, the ever-sparkling Peter Guttridge chatted to the ever-charismatic Lee Child with an audience packed to the rafters listening in. Peter focused the interview more on Lee than on Reacher, asking him about his own experience growing up, whether Reacher’s fighting techniques, including the head-butts,  are skills Lee himself honed (answer:  yes!), and what his plans are for the series (answer: three more books agreed, after that he’ll see if people want more – I expect that we will!). Of course Lee’s new book NEVER GO BACK was discussed, but as to whether Reacher finally gets to visit with ‘the woman with the great voice’ that he’s been travelling to meet for the past couple of books, well, I guess you’ll just have to read the story to find out! [No spoilers here!]

And then it was over.

All that remains is to say a huge thank you to Dom Hastings and his amazing festival team. Their friendliness, great festive spirit and endlessly positive responses to queries both before and during the festival made for a warm and welcoming atmosphere that I’m sure will bring people back to Bloody Scotland for 2014 and beyond.

[hop on over to www.bloodyscotland.com to check out the early bird offers for Bloody Scotland 2014]

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